To support protesting farmers, all the grain markets — including 152 main yards and around 1,700 sub-yards and mandis at the block and village level, will stay shut for three days till December 9 (Wednesday) as arhtiyas and labourers working at these mandis will join the dharna at Delhi border.
Talking to The Indian Express, Harbans Singh Rosha, the president of Khanna Grain Market Arhtiyas Association, the biggest mandi of Punjab, said that on Monday commission agents and labourers in 50 buses and 80 personal vehicles were being sent to the dharna site in Delhi. He added that these arhtiyas and labourers belong to mandis of Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib and Moga district, while the mandis of the entire state will remain closed for the three days beginning Monday.
“We will cover the arhtiyas and labourers of the mandis of all the 22 districts of Punjab turn wise to the dharna site in the coming six days,” said Rosha, adding that farmers are not alone in this fight.
Darshan Lal, the president of Khanna Mandi Labourer Union, informed that nearly 5-6 lakh labourers, including migrants, work for around 4-5 months in these mandis round-the-clock for wheat and paddy seasons. “When the mandis will be finished all these poor people, who earn good amount of money for 4-5 months and grain for the entire family for whole year from mandi work, will become jobless which is a step to make them unemployed. If government cannot give employment to the poor people then it has no right to snatch it from them by making such black laws,” he rued while on his way to the dharna site on Monday.
“Currently paddy season is over in Punjab and now farmers are bringing Basmati crop, the load of which is not much and we have told our respective farmers to bring the Basmati crop only after the three days,” said another commission agent Raj Pal Singh Gill of Khanna Mandi, adding that government only sees the 2.5 per cent commission of the arhtiyas but they do not see the expenditure which they incur to arrange labour, cleaning, weighing facilities and managing all the procurement for the government.
The Agriculture Officers Association, Punjab, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Monday announced uninterrupted supply of urea to the fields of all the farmers who are protesting in Delhi. Dr Kripal Singh, the president of the association, said that their association will ensure that the urea supply will reach every farmers’ field in their absence in Punjab.
He said that on December 8 under the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call all the agriculture officers will go on mass leave to support them.
Agriculture Development Officer, Pathankot, Dr Amrik Singh said: “We are in touch with farmers and have asked them to inform us immediately in case of non-supply of urea to their fields as wheat sowing is in the last leg and the farmers need to apply it on the crop within 30 days of its sowing.”
Support also poured for protesting farmers from members of the Christian community. Several youths from the community dressed like Santa Claus and organised a march in Jalandhar on Monday, and appealed to masses to openly support the farmers protest.
Protesting leaders including Gagan George, Amern Happy, Dominic Mattu said this struggle is not limited to the farmers community but also to all communities, because about 80 per cent people in one way or the other are dependent on agriculture.
“The Christian community is mostly working as labourers in the fields of farmers and if farmers are getting hit the same would affect the labour class too,” said Tarsem Peter, community leader and president of Pendu Mazdoor Union Punjab.
Meanwhile, Punjab Water Supply, Sanitation Contract Workers Unions has already started applying urea in the fields of protesting farmers and they have also appealed farmers to contact them for any agri work from applying fertilisers to spraying pesticides and irrigating their fields back home.
The women folk who had not accompanied their family members to Delhi are now working in the fields when their sons and husbands are sitting at dharna in Delhi.